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ASU Football: 'Summer of Legends' No. 14 Troy Nolan

One of Arizona State's best defensive backs in the 21st century takes home honors with No. 14.

He changed to No. 33 in the pros, but Nolan didn't change his knack for finding the football.
He changed to No. 33 in the pros, but Nolan didn't change his knack for finding the football.
Christian Petersen

The Backstory: Between No. 11 and No. 19, our research shows that most of the teens are dominated by offensive players. Defensive players rarely wear numbers between 11 and 19, and thus our series has turned to honoring offensive players over the last few days.

Quarterbacks, wide receivers, and even a few running backs have become playmakers by wearing jerseys in the teens, but today, our series takes us on a different track. That's because All-Conference safety Troy Nolan wore No. 14, and his presence in the defensive backfield helped Arizona State rack up a 10-win season in 2007.

So today, we switch to the defensive side of the ball, because Troy Nolan produced too many game-changing plays to ignore.

The Player: Troy Nolan (2006-2008)

Todd Graham has made his mark recruiting Junior College standouts to Arizona State, but he wasn't the first coach to realize the JUCO level is a goldmine for undiscovered talent.

In 2006, Dennis Erickson found Troy Nolan at the College of the Canyons in Southern California after Nolan helped lead College of the Canyons to the Junior College National Championship. Nolan was a First Team All-Western States defender, and he looked like the perfect physical safety for the Sun Devil defense.

Though Nolan proved his talent at the JUCO level, he still sat out a season and redshirted in 2006. Despite sitting on the sidelines on game day, Nolan learned valuable lessons that would make him a go-to player the following year.

In 2007, Nolan made his debut as a Sun Devil starter and made an immediate splash. Nolan's six interceptions led all Sun Devil players and his total represented the most picks since Nathan LaDuke snagged six in 1989. Arizona State enjoyed a 10-3 record, and Nolan earned Second Team All Pac-10 honors for his outstanding play.

Aside from producing on the field, Nolan was a devoted student in the classroom and was honored as an Arizona State student-athlete of the semester by ASU's Office of Student-Athlete Development.

After seeing playing time in just one season, Nolan emerged as a team leader and received the honor of representing Arizona State as a captain for the 2008 season. While the Sun Devils were not nearly as productive as their previous season, it wasn't for Nolan's lack of effort. The starting safety grabbed four interceptions and scored three defensive touchdowns while racking up a conference-best 167 return yards.

Nolan repeated as a Second Team All Pac-10 performer, but he picked up more prestigious awards within the Sun Devil program. The Southern California native shared Team Defensive MVP honors, and won the Pat Tillman Valor Award.

Nolan led by example and made plays, and is an example of the type of player that Todd Graham hopes to find on the recruiting trail.

In the Pros: The Houston Texans selected Nolan in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Nolan has bounced around among five organizations, and he currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Though he hasn't received much playing time at any of his destinations, he has maintained his penchant for picks as he has three career interceptions.

Honorable Mention

Kurt Lasher: Lasher is the best Sun Devil quarterback to wear No. 14, and earned All Pac-10 Honorable Mention recognition in each of his two seasons as a starter (1990 and 1991).